2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook
June 2005 - On May 16, 2005 the United States National Weather Service issued a seasonal forecast for tropical storm activity for the Atlantic Ocean for the 2005 season. Their forecast called for 12 to 15 named tropical storms to form this year, 7 to 9 of which will become hurricanes. Of these hurricanes, 3 to 5 will reach the status of intense hurricanes (Categories 3 to 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale). Other forecast centres such as Colorado State University's Tropical Cyclone Lab and the Tropical Storm Risk Initiative in the United Kingdom predict similar numbers of tropical storm activity. If you compare these forecasts with the long term (50 year) seasonal averages for tropical activity - roughly 10 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 2 intense hurricanes - you can see that we expect to have another busy season for hurricanes in our part of the world.
This forecast continues a trend of above normal activity that has been occurring in the Atlantic for the past decade. Since 1995, 9 out of 10 years have seen a larger than average number of tropical storms. It seems that we are currently in an active part of a long term cycle. The 1950's and 60's were lively times for Atlantic tropical cyclones, followed by relatively quiet decades in the 1970's and 80's. Since the 1990's, we have seen a return to the more energetic phase. If this trend continues, we should continue to look for busy hurricane seasons in the Atlantic for at least the remainder of this decade!
The hurricane season for the Atlantic Ocean officially runs from June 1 to November 30. Most years, we do not see the first named storm until July, and the peak months of the season are August and September, although October can be quite active as well.
What Does This Mean for Canada?
Any time there is a prediction of increased hurricane activity overall in the Atlantic, it means that there will be a greater chance that some of these storms will affect Canada. In 2004, there were 15 named storms in the Atlantic, 9 of which became hurricanes. The Canadian Hurricane Centre issued special bulletins for 8 of these storms. Six of them had direct impacts on Canadian territory. For a more detailed review of last season, please consult the 2004 season summary.
Over the years, roughly one-third of the tropical storms forming in the Atlantic come to affect Canada in some way. This includes storms that affect Canada's land areas, as well as those that remain offshore over Canadian waters. If this ratio holds true for the 2005 season, we should expect about five storms to become a concern for residents of Canada.
It is highly variable how these storms track each year, and how much of their intensity they maintain when they reach higher latitudes. This makes it difficult, before the season starts, to suggest to Canadians how to prepare for a busy hurricane season. The best approach is to pay attention to the bulletins issued by the Canadian Hurricane Centre as we monitor each individual storm. The CHC will provide Canadians with sufficient warning of any impacts due to high winds, heavy rains or high water levels associated with each storm.
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